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“Ever Vigilant” Ontario Information and Privacy Commissioner Releases Annual Report

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On June 4, 2012, the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario (“IPC”) released her 2011 Annual Report.  The theme of the report “Ever Vigilant” was chosen because, according the IPC’s press release, the reintroduction of “lawful access” legislation (discussed in my previous posts here, here and here) “represented one of the most invasive threats to our privacy and freedom” that the IPC has encountered and represent, in her words, what she is calling “Surveillance by Design.”

Here are some highlights relating to access to government-held information from the Annual Report and accompanying material.

  • A record number (45,159) of access to government-held information requests were filed in Ontario in 2011 (up 16% year over year).
  • A record number of appeals (1,214) appeals were issued regarding government responses to those access to government-held information requests.
  • The dramatic increases in public demand for government-held information reflects the role of the Internet and accompanying technologies and provides the opportunity for greater civic participation but requires proactive rather than reactive approaches to information disclosure.
  • The IPC has developed 7 principles to guide “Access by Design” to guide government and public sector organizations in re-thinking access to government-held information.
  • The IPC calls on the Government of Ontario to develop an “Open Data” portal by the end of 2012.  The IPC is setting an example by making raw statistics available along with its report.